Demolition of Regent’s Wharf plans gives us hope
08 December, 2017
• WE should always give credit where credit is due. And this week full credit is deserved by planning committee councillors who challenged their officers’ decision process and gave a unanimous thumbs down to the Regent’s Wharf proposal.
Canal supporters, heritage experts and affected residents were sufficiently concerned about this controversial application that more than 50 turned up at the meeting. Many were expecting a rubber-stamping exercise (similar to the rushed decision by Hackney Council to demolish Holborn Studios). To our pleasant surprise we witnessed a car crash in slow motion when the councillors took turns to demolish the recommendation.
The developers have managed to alienate everyone. The first mistake was to play down the extent of their proposals during the early consultations. This cost them the trust of the public.
In any event the ensuing plans were unacceptable and no amount of spin, drugs or bribery would have persuaded us not to object. The only surviving warehouse of its kind in Islington would have been distorted, the canal would have been sidelined in favour of HGVs during construction, and numerous residents would have been robbed of daylight.
Natural daylight is not a luxury. It is linked to our wellbeing and its absence can trigger mental illness. This was made clear in a moving speech during the objections. In other words, this application had an impact on people’s health as well as on their aesthetic values.
Tuesday evening’s meeting was an educational process for everyone. It gave hope to campaigners, it reminded council officers that the elected representatives provided an insurance against bullying by developers, and it sent a clear message to developers that politicians and the public will not tolerate being undermined.
If the developers are thinking of appealing to central government to overrule the council then they should think again. Historic England and other national bodies are on our side and this is no longer a local issue. Our current protest is just the tip of the iceberg.
Friends of Regent’s Canal